Midwestern Booyah Stew
Calling all soup and stew lovers: If you haven’t tried Midwestern booyah stew, this is your sign. It’s a thick, hearty stew that’s full of flavor and is typically made in a huge vat – but we’ve scaled it down here so you can make 8 to 10 servings.
If you’re like me, it doesn’t take much convincing to make a new soup recipe when the weather is chilly.
If you’re in the same mindset, why not give booyah a try? It tastes great – and it’s got a fun name.
What Is Booyah?
Get this: booyah is both a food and an event.
For the food: Booyah is a thick meat and vegetable stew. When made as a part of a booyah event (see below), the stew is cooked low and slow for several hours in a giant vat. This recipe is for a scaled-down booyah stew – because you’re probably feeding a family, not 200 people, right?
For the event: A booyah is an event where a huge vat of booyah stew is made over an open fire, typically in the fall. Booyahs are often fundraisers put on by fire departments, churches or other organizations. Booyahs are common in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and elsewhere in the Upper Midwest – with origins in Belgium.
No two booyahs are the same, but they have some delicious commonalities.
Ingredients: What You’ll Need To Make Booyah
Booyah stew is heavy on the vegetables. Here’s what I used in mine:
- Garlic and onions: Every good soup recipe calls for garlic and onions! Use white or yellow onions for this recipe.
- Sweet corn: For the absolute best flavor, use fresh field sweet corn (which usually coincides with fall in the Midwest, which is when booyah is typically eaten)
- Carrots: Carrots are inexpensive and add great color and crunch to this stew.
- Green peas: Frozen peas work well for this recipe, adding little pops of sweetness and color.
- Cabbage: While you can certainly finely slice green cabbage, I find it much easier (and still cheap) to use coleslaw mix. This usually contains shredded carrots, as well – which is totally fine.
- Celery: Adds great crunch to this booyah recipe.
- Potatoes: Potatoes add bulk to this recipe. When the soup is cooked low and slow, the potatoes become tender and soak up so much flavor.
- Tomato: You can use grape tomatoes or chopped Roma tomatoes (usually the cheapest tomato option).
- Lemon: Juice from 1 lemon adds a bit of acid and wakes the soup up. Alternatively, you could use a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the soup.
- Jalapeno (optional): If you’re not spice adverse, add a jalapeno pepper to the broth.
- Other vegetable options: Add green beans, green, orange or red bell peppers, zucchini
Do I have to use all of these vegetables? No. While more vegetables add more flavor and texture to this stew, it is not absolutely necessary to include every vegetable I have listed in the recipe. Use what you have on hand to save money.
What Types Of Meat Are Used In Booyah?
Every booyah is a little different. And that’s the beauty of it – when you show up to a booyah event, you know you’ll be getting a delicious, hearty meat and vegetable stew – but no two bowls taste exactly the same.
That said, booyah may contain any combination of the following meats:
- Chicken: Most booyah recipes call for chicken – white or dark meat. When the soup is cooked low and slow, the chicken meat shreds nicely and soaks up flavor.
- Steak or stew meat: You definitely don’t have to use expensive steak to make booyah. Stew meat will work just fine, and the nature of the recipe (cooking low and slow) makes for deliciously tender meat.
- Smoked sausage: I love adding smoked sausage to booyah. You could substitute other types of cooked sausage like polska kielbasa or ring bologna.
Do I have to use 3 meats? Nope! This soup will still be tasty if you only use chicken and steak. More meat means more money – which so many of us are trying to save!
Making booyah is similar to making other kinds of soups and stews. Scroll down for the full recipe, but here’s the process, in a nutshell:
- Brown meat & set aside
- Cook onions in oil, add garlic and other vegetables
- Add several cups of chicken broth (or concentrated chicken base + water)
- Add additional seasonings
- Allow to simmer to cook vegetables
- Add meat back in and simmer until ready to serve
You can serve booyah plain, with oyster crackers or bread or topped generously with Parmesan cheese. Check out these 80+ creative soup topping ideas for more inspiration.
Making Delicious Booyah Broth
All the vegetables and meat in the world won’t make up for an underseasoned soup broth. Which is why I love this particular booyah recipe: The perfect blend of flavors makes for the distinctive flavor you’ll love in this soup base:
Acid: Lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
Heat: Jalapeno pepper
Umami: Worcestershire sauce
Savory: Chicken broth (use boxed, homemade or a chicken-based soup based like Better Than Bouillon)
Herbs and spices: Bay leaf, garlic powder, parsley, black pepper
Booyah is great on a chilly fall day or for large family gatherings, church picnics and other social events. This is a great starter booyah recipe. As you continue to make it, you’ll develop your own spin on it and make something your family will love.
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1/2 pound stew meat (or other cut of steak)
- 1/4 pound chicken cut (breast, thigh, your choice)
- 1/4 pound smoked sausage
- Black pepper
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 6 cups chicken stock (I use Better Than Bouillon chicken base)
- 2 medium potatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
- 1/2 cup sweet corn
- 2 cups shredded cabbage (or coleslaw mix)
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes (or 2 Roma tomatoes, chopped)
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
- Juice from 1 lemon (or 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
- In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add steak and chicken and cook until browned. Add chopped sausage. Season generously with black pepper. Once all meat is browned, remove from pot and set aside.
- In the same pot, heat another tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 more seconds. Add chopped carrot and cook for another 2 minutes until carrot begins to soften.
- Add chicken stock to pot. Add vegetables and spices. Add meat back in. Allow soup to simmer for 30 minutes or longer, if time allows, to let the flavors blend. Adjust seasonings as desired. Remove bay leaf and serve.